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A telethon on Nashville television station WSMV has raised $1.7 million for Tennessee flood relief tonight (May 6). The nearly four-hour telethon was hosted by Vince Gill and featured performances by Keith Urban, Alison Krauss, Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, Billy Dean, Lonestar, Lee Roy Parnell, Larry Gatlin, Bryan White, Steve Wariner, Lorrie Morgan and others. "It's amazing what a couple of phone calls can do," Vince said at one point during the show.
In addition to performing, Keith, Amy, Billy and Steve were among those answering phones during the event, which was carried locally as well as on the station's website and intermittently on CNN.
Meanwhile, Taylor Swift called in from a concert stop in Des Moines, Iowa, to pledge her support to the event. While she didn't donate directly, it was announced during the show that she has given $500,000 to various charities for flood relief.
Meanwhile, Vince and wife Amy Grant donated $100,000 to the cause. Amy told an interviewer that their inspiration came from Reba McEntire, who donated the same amount to the American Red Cross this week.
Proceeds from the telethon will go to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Thousands of Middle Tennessee families were left with no homes, food, or possessions after weekend flooding of historic proportions. Several Nashville landmarks, including the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the Opryland Hotel, the Wildhorse Saloon and the Opry Mills Mall were affected by the flooding of the nearby Cumberland River.
Vince closed the show with "Go Rest High on That Mountain," which featured an all-star chorus including Billy Dean, Lee Roy Parnell, Bryan White, Jeff Hanna, Larry Gatlin, Lonestar and others. "This is the best choir I've ever seen," Vince said before playing the opening notes of the song, which he dedicated to those who had lost their lives in the flooding.
"Follow that, Jay Leno," Vince shouted to laughs and applause as the show ended.